Q&A With Huw Griffith, CEO & Partner M&C Saatchi LA, About the Agency’s Long Relationship With The San Diego Zoo


By thelaegotist / / The Egotist interviewed Huw Griffith, CEO & Partner at M&C Saatchi LA, about the agency’s long relationship with the San Diego Zoo and what it means to keep work fresh and relationships meaningful. Huw Griffith CEO & Partner, M&C Saatchi LA HOW DOES THE 2016 NOLA CAMPAIGN FOR THE SAN DIEGO ZOO REFLECT THE AGENCY’S APPROACH: BRUTAL SIMPLICITY OF THOUGHT? We believe simple ideas enter the brain quicker and stay longer. This belief is the basis of our core philosophy and exists at the heart of everything we do. The NOLA ad is as brutally simple as it gets. Through a focused strategy and pointed creative we managed to truly capture what the San Diego Zoo is all about: the quest to end extinction. HOW LONG HAS M&C SAATCHI LA HAS THE ZOO AS A CLIENT AND HOW HAS YOUR WORK CHANGED OVER TIME? We count ourselves very lucky to have enjoyed such an immensely productive and enduring partnership with the Zoo. This year we are celebrating 10 years of working together; from back when our office was only a year old to the success we are experiencing today. Key people on both sides have worked together since the start of the relationship, but we have also introduced new talent over the years, which is essential in keeping everything fresh. This combination of a shared history and new influences have made a huge difference and enabled us to build the trust it takes to do great work without getting complacent. That’s not to say our role hasn’t evolved over the years. We are still the strategic partner, guiding short and long-term communications strategy and the lead creative agency, but the type of content we produce is more varied and for more platforms than ever before. WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO KEEPING RELATIONSHIPS PRODUCTIVE AND REWARDING? To evolve, ensure you stay relevant and never take anything for granted. How has M&C Saatchi LA changed over the years? We have grown up considerably. Over the last four years in particular we have managed to build a thriving social and digital business through the bolstering of our core offering with M&C Saatchi SHARE and digital creative agency Heavenspot. Awareness of the company and our culture has grown too. Our business is less about communications and more about people – our clients, our audiences, and our own community. WHAT HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON THAT CHANGE? Technology, the economy, politics and human behavior as a whole. The world has and continues to change. There isn’t one overarching thing; it’s a cumulative effect and we always try to consider each facet while making strategic decisions. As a company honored with Best Places to Work 2015, how do you create a place that people want to be? Advise for others? Listen. Stay true to your company goals. But don’t be afraid of embracing new people and new ways of doing things. ADVERTISING PET PEEVES? Giving ideas away for free. We should put an end to speculative pitch work. A LOOK BACK AT THE BEST OF – MONKEY TRAILS – SUMMER ’06/’07 The San Diego Zoo has drawn on its years of research into animal behaviors and habitats to design the Monkey Trails and Forest Tales exhibit. The Monkey Trails and Forest Tales exhibit is yet another example of why the San Diego Zoo is world famous. An exhibit so amazing that even the monkeys from all over will want to live there. MYTHICAL CREATURES – 2007 The zoo was in need of an evergreen brand campaign that didn’t center around any specific exhibit opening. San Diego Zoo, home to more than 4,000 rare and endangered animals, offering unparalleled diversity. Representing more than 800 species and subspecies, from the timid shrew to the mightiest elephant and just about every creature in between This campaign put a humorous spin on the brand insight of being the most diverse zoo out there… “If it existed, we have them” ELEPHANT ODYSSEY – SUMMER ’09 San Diego Zoo was opening its largest, most involved, most expensive exhibit to date (2009). The Elephant Odyssey exhibit is an immersive, hands-on experience, taking you from the Southern California of 12,000BC , when mammoths and sabre tooth tigers existed alongside the first humans, to up-close interactions with today’s elephants you know and love. Along the way you will discover ways to help prevent today’s endangered species going the way of their predecessors. Elephant Odyssey campaign played on the history and story of how today’s elephants came into existence. Quirky, fun history lesson via TV, OOH, Radio and digital. JUNGLE BELLS Often residents/visitors think of Zoo as a summer, kids-break family activity. But SDZ is made for yearlong fun. SDZ needed a campaign to remind San Diego residents there is something to do during the holidays at the Zoo. The Zoo is well-known for having family-friendly activities that aren’t over commercialized. Escape the holiday season rat race at Jungle Bells. KOALAFORNIA – SUMMER ’13/’14 The San Diego Zoo is known as a leader for koala breeding and conservation outside of Australia. Not only do they display the most koalas in the country, but koalas from their collection are in zoos across the United States. Summer 2013, the San Diego Zoo opened a brand new exhibit, called the Australian Outback. The new exhibit featured many animal species found in Australia, but the hero was without a doubt the koala. The message reflected the simple truths: being in the southern most part of our state, San Diego is California’s “Down Under;” and when it comes to seeing koalas, there is no better place to be than the San Diego Zoo. What they ended up with became more than a message, it was a state of mind – the state of Koalafornia. By injecting koalas into the pop-culture idea of California lifestyle, they had a concept that was incredibly fun to work with, and the applications for marketing were seemingly endless. TIGER POWER – SUMMER ’14 The new Tiger Trail exhibit at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park offered an up close view of the endangered Sumatran Tiger, allowing visitors to get closer than ever to our majestic tigers. NOLA 2015 Nola – the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s northern white rhino – passed away leaving only three of the species left on the planet. As Conservation is at the heart of the Zoo’s global mission, the organization wanted to honor this loss and inspire change. To translate sadness into determination and hope. Through a brutally simple execution, M&C Saatchi LA has brought to life the plight of the northern white rhino, with an EKG marked by three diminishing rhino horns. This great species has been decimated by humankind’s exploitation of endangered animals. We can end this senseless loss by heeding a call for life-affirming action. Together we can #endextinction. Find out more at endextinction.org SUMMER SAFARI – SUMMER ’15 The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is designed to give the visitor the most natural and up close encounters with wild animals. You can choose from a variety of safari adventures, from a simple walking safari through the 1800 acres, to an overnight stay at the Roar and Snore camp. Whichever you choose, you will get to see animals enjoying the freedom of open range enclosures, and have rare encounters with many endangered species. With so many safaris to choose from, each visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a new adventure. This campaign worked to show potential visitors how many different ways they can experience the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Now wouldn’t you like to go on a safari, without having to even leave your backyard…no passport or shots needed! Content videos told the story, one large hero video and then broken into videos specific to each of the cool, unique featured activities.